I remember at a party, years ago, I think it was at one of my old apartments, there was a metalhead, and he was saying he’d ran out of ideas – he said that it felt like all the good ideas had been done in metal, and he wondered how he could come up with anything new.
Why limit yourself to taking influence for metal music-making by only listening to metal that sounds like everything you’ve just created? Is there any wonder why you might not find musical inspiration in that method?
We strengthen the neural pathways in our brains by thinking about / doing / feeling something over and over and over. The connections that you have in your brains about music, for example, might be very limited if there aren’t very many connections there. I think it’s good to expand and develop all sorts of new connections, as opposed to getting cemented in one specific series of neural pathways – that would only limit a person, in the long run. I think it’s great to solidify the connections in the brain with things like technique and skill and practicing over and over – but as far as basic musicology – basic artistic ideas as to “what music can be” – I think it’s best to keep that a bit more open.
So, if you want to make metal, but ran out of ideas, what can you do? …Well, listen to “Giant Steps” by John Coltrane.
You don’t have to make music like him, or even try to. But the idea is to loosen up the connections you’ve formed in your head about what, specifically, music “should” sound like… Now, if you want to make metal, than… Cool, do it… If you want to make a hard house banger…. Cool. Do it. If you want to make glitch hop and rap over it, and have a little bit of chop n screw influence in the post production – cool. DO IT.
The point is, you can STILL understand other forms of music, form new pathways, and realize there are alternative ways that people are (and have been) creating rhythm, melody, harmony, dissonance, noise, cadence, vocal structures, flows, time signatures, etc. You can combine ideas from different forms of music together. You can create your own ideas. I don’t know if anyone has thought of “interchangeable octaves,” before, I just got the idea from listening to music and then playing the keyboard and changing the octave settings on specific notes but maintaining the same melodic sequence of notes… Maybe after reading this, you’ll listen to some of the tracks posted in this article and then mess around with different sounds and come up with your own techniques. They don’t have to be brand new (they can be, though).
Think of it like this: your brain needs to eat. You can’t feed it the same thing EVERY time. It needs variety, or else it’ll get bored…
So try listening to something completely different, and let your brain build an even bigger base of musical ideas. You’re broadening the reach of your mind, you artistic eye, and if you focus on it, you can almost feel it happening.
Or check out some Detroit punk rock from the late 1980s: The Gories!
Or here, check out some Krautrock from 1970:
…or an artsy Russian Drum n Bass video by Baisan & Buben called F5:
Or, here, here’s some skweee. A whole playlist of it, good ol’ skweeetastic skweee. Check it out: